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After World War Two and demobilisation, the SAAF was reduced in size to essential Permanent Force units supported by Active Citizen Force units.

The change in Government in 1948 with the attainment of power by the National Party was to directly affect the Air Force. A plan was introduced that would restructure and reorientate the institutional culture of the Union Defence Force. In essence it involved the removal of Citizen Force regiments which were considered too British in terms of their institutional culture and identity, and eliminated advancement forwomen, blacks, coloured or indians. The first target was the Air Force, for it was perceived as being far too British. RAF personnel contracts were not renewed and a budgetary noose was placed around Air Force finances.

The SAAF counteracted the attempt to abolish foreign influence by developing a truly Air Force culture. In July 1949 a very significant step in the history of the SAAF took place, the conventional Army khaki gave way to a grey-blue uniform. At long last the SAAF had a uniform of which they were proud to wear. In November 1950 the SAAF adopted the Springbok for the centre of the roundel, giving the SAAF its own identity.

In 1948, against a backdrop of increasingly strained East/West relations, the Soviets blockaded West Berlin. As a result all supplies had to be airlifted into West Berlin. The SAAF supplied 20 aircrews for the Berlin Airlift, airlifting a total of 4 133 tons of supplies in 1 240 missions while flying RAF Dakotas.

The peace time role of the SAAF in the fifties included aerial photography for mapping purposes, combating mosquitoes in Zululand using newly acquired Sikorsky S-51 helicopters, early morning weather flights training of members for the Citizen Force.